Tsuga, Sumo Wrestler


We said when we’d gotten past the very hard thing of putting Buster down in July of 2003 that we would not have another dog. It was just too hard to lose them–especially that way.

And three weeks later, Tsuga was born; I knew if we went and looked at the pups we’d bring one home. And when he was 7 weeks old–on August 17, 2003–we brought him home. Early on, we considered taking him back. He was a belligerent terror. I wrote about our growing relationship that month in a series I thought might turn into Marley and Me of Goose Creek. I called the posts “Alpha Male” even while I worked hard to take over that position.

Tsuga (named for the dying Hemlock trees) has turned out to be a very gentle dog, after a snarly beginning. And, in spite our early concerns he was deformed, he’s a nicely built dog as well.

You can see why we were concerned. His front two-thirds grew faster than his caboose. If you cover up all but the hind quarters, it looks like a tiny dog with very big feet. He did finally grow into his chest, and at 80 pounds (that’s a lot of kibble) he is strong and agile.

Now, he’s four years, plus a couple of months. Buster died at four and a half. We think about that when we take stock of how much a part of our life this pup has become, and hope for him a long and happy life on Goose Creek.

I’ll probably post another spot or two on the dog this week, being his anniversary and all (and per the stipulations of the contract from his agent.)

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. They DO get into our hearts, and they nestle there forever. May Tsuga have many more years of bone chewing, romping and cavorting, hole digging and tummy rubs, Fred. There just isn’t anything quite like a loving furry canine companion.